Nevada football coach Brian Polian came on my radio show last Thursday to answer several questions about the upcoming season.
Players reported for fall camp on Friday and practices started Saturday. The season officially kicks off Friday, Sept. 2 at the newly renovated Mackay Stadium against Cal Poly.
Part 1 of the conversation can be found here. Here is part 2 of that conversation:
You brought in a new offensive coordinator (Tim Cramsey) with Nick (Rolovich) leaving to Hawaii. What does Tim Cramsey bring to the table? What do you think the offensive will look like this year?
The pistol will not go away, the pistol concepts and the formation. And that’s what people need to keep in mind by the way, the pistol is a formation. Everybody runs the plays. The genius of the whole thing was by putting the back behind the quarterback instead of next to him. You could do it either direction.
We’ll keep that, but there’s going to be more motions, more personal groupings, more formation, more window dressing. We’re going to do a better job of making the defense keep their eyes in the right place and test their discipline.
We’re still going to run the ball, because that’s what I believe in. And when you look at the Mountain West, that’s where the league is heading…
We’ll still keep our identity, but we’ll have more wrinkles…
The quarterback has to play better. He knows it. The wide receivers absolutely have to play better. They know it. And the coaches, starting with me and the offensive staff, have to give the kids more answers against man coverage.
You mention the running game, (James Butler), a lot of things are expected from him this year, his sophomore year, but you also got Akeel Lynch from Penn State. I imagine that’s going to be something you decide as we go along here, but do you imagine that being a two-headed monster? Or have you not figured that out yet?
That’s why I brought Akeel here. I want it to be a two-headed monster.
James Butler is such a humble, good guy, he doesn’t care about what the yard total is at the end of the year. And by the way, the people that don’t understand how good a back James Butler is, all you have do is look at yards per carry (6.5 yards/carry as true freshman in 2015). Imagine what he would have produced had he gotten all of Don Jackson’s touches as well.
But the reality of it is, we had two healthy backs at the end of the year because they don’t take the pounding. I believe when you study college football and pro football now, the vast majority of people are playing in a two-back system.
You have anomalies, outliers like Adrian Peterson, who can be that freak guy, who can do it. But the reality of it is, most people now are playing two backs. Because it’s hard for one guy to take that pounding throughout the course of the year.
So I expect Akeel is going to get touches. I don’t know if it’ll be even, but he’s certainly going to play a predominant role and I’m excited to have him.
You got all these recognizable faces, Akeel not included, coming back (on the offensive side of the ball) this year. On the defensive side of the ball, it’s kind of a different story, especially the front seven. How many jobs, I guess, are up for grabs in camp?
Every job is always up for grabs in camp (laughs).
I’m not as freaked out about the d-line as other people are. Because if anybody paid attention, they’d know we roll defensive linemen in the game like a hockey team. They go in in lines.
The people that are going to be thrust into a starting role have all played in games. It’s not like this is the first football the guys are going to be playing.
Malik Reed (appeared in all 13 games last year), I think, can take the place of (Ian) Seau in terms of being the guy that can generate pass rush by himself. You don’t have to scheme it up. He can win 1-on-1…
Patrick Choudja (appeared in all 13 games last year), who was a highly touted recruit, and has played as a freshman and a sophomore, will now be thrust into a roll. So I’m not freaked out up front.
The linebacker situation is where I’m going to have to pay very close attention through the first 8-10 days of training camp. We have Alex Bertando (90 career tackles), who is a fifth-year senior and has played as a role player a lot. But now you’re talking about Travis Wilson (seven career tackles) at the Will.
You know, we’ve toyed with the idea of moving Jaden Sawyer (15 career tackles) up, who’s a big safety, and can he fill Bryan Lane’s shoes as that kind of hybrid safety-outside linebacker?
Gabe Sewell (redshirt freshman), who we were thrilled to recruit a year ago, we red shirted him. Where’s he going to factor into the mix? It’s going to be an interesting training camp in terms of the linebacker battle.
Part III of the conversation with Nevada football coach Brian Polian will run in next week’s Sparks Tribune.